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Representatives Facing Legislative Contests More Likely to Support Impeachment

Having to face the voters appears to have some correlation with how members of the House voted on impeachment yesterday.

The vote on House Resolution 7002, the two articles of impeachment against killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, was 36 Yea, 31 Nay, 3 excused. That’s 51% in favor, 44% opposed, 4% sitting out.

2021i HR 7002 Ravnsborg impeachment vote 20220412
2021i HR 7002 Ravnsborg impeachment vote, 2022.04.12; screen cap from LRC website.

16 of South Dakota’s 70 House members are not running for reëlection to the Legislature this year. Among those 16, the vote was 5 Yea, 9 Nay, 2 excused:

  • Yea: Anderson, Hoffman, Smith, Tidemann, York.
  • Nay: Barthel, Dennert, Lana Greenfield, Haugaard, Chris Johnson, Marty, Milstead, Miskimins, Kent Peterson.
  • Excused: Howard, Wiese.

In this subset of Representatives not seeking reëlection to the Legislature, that’s 31% in favor, 56% opposed, and 12% skipping.

Among the 54 House members who want voters to send them back to the Legislature, the vote was 31 Yea, 22 Nay, 1 excused:

  • Yea: Aylward, Bartels, Beal, Blare, Bordeaux, Chaffee, Chase, Cwach, Davis, Derby, Deutsch, Drury, Duba, Fitzgerald, Goodwin, Healy, Keintz, Koth, Ladner, Lesmeister, Mortenson, Olson, Pourier, Reed, Rehfeldt, Schneider, St. John, Thomason, Weisgram, Willadsen, Wink.
  • Nay: Finck, Gosch, Gross, Hansen, Jamison, Kevin Jensen, Phil Jensen, Karr, May, Mills, Mulally, Ernie Otten, Overweg, Perry, Sue Peterson, Pischke, Randolph, Reimer, Soye, Stevens, Vasgaard, Weis.
  • Excused: Odenbach.

Among Representatives seeking another term in either the House or Senate, that’s 57% in favor, 41% opposed, and 2% not participating.

We can pare down those candidates for return by removing those who don’t face challengers for their seats. Absent any independents or Libertarians entering their races, Aye Sydney Davis faces no opponent in her bid to move to the Senate, and Ayes Aaron Aylward and Rocky Blare and Nays Ernie Otten, Marty Overweg, and Rebecca Reimer are headed back to the House without having to fight. Recategorize those six, and we get the following percentages on impeachment among House members who have to fight for votes in June and/or November and those who don’t:

  • 22 not running or not facing opponent candidates: 8 Yea, 12 Nay = 36% in favor, 55% against.
  • 48 running for Legislature and facing opponents: 27 Yea, 19 Nay = 56% in favor, 40% against.

By either count, Representatives who have to make the case for voters to hire them for another term in the Legislature were more likely to vote to impeach Jason Ravnsborg than Representatives who either don’t plan to return to Pierre or who don’t have to ask voters to punch their ticket for another Rotunda dance.

There are eight Senators, all Republican, who are running for reëlection to the Senate and face no opposition. Seven more Republican Senators face primary challengers but no Democratic opponents, and Senate President Pro-Tempore Lee Schoenbeck, who is one of those Senators facing a primary but no Democratic opposition, may not schedule the Senate trial until after the primary. Thus, if the House vote’s correlation to opposition on the ballot is any indication of how legislators may vote on impeachment, anybody who wants to increase the chances that the Senate will convict Ravnsborg should get independents and/or Libertarians onto the ballot in those fifteen Senators’ districts.

Related Impeachment Vote Trivia:

  • Jason Ravnsborg pays Representative Trish Ladner and her husband Bobby to produce his sloppy website. Rep. Ladner voted to impeach Ravnsborg.
  • The two incumbents in the House race in new District 3 in Aberdeen, Kaleb Weis and Carl Perry, both voted against impeachment. District 3 voters have two well-connected Chamber of Commerce candidates challenging them in the Republican primary, Richard Rylance and Brandi Schaefbauer.
  • District 6’s Republican delegation split, with Aylward voting Aye and Otten voting Nay. District 21’s Republican Representatives also split, with Blare voting Aye and Overweg, evidently forgetting that Kristi Noem gave him his seat, voting Nay. As noted above, all four are seeking reëlection, and none face primary or general election challengers.
  • District 13’s Republicans split: Thomason voted to impeach, while Sue Peterson voted to excuse lawbreaking, killing, and lying. Those two face a primary against Penny Baybridge and (sound the trumpets) Tony Venhuizen, who as Kristi Noem’s chief of staff in September 2020 conveyed the Governor’s wish right after Ravnsborg’s deadly car crash that Ravnsborg take a leave of absence. If Thomason and Venhuizen care to team up to campaign on accountability, they could clean Peterson’s excuse-making clock.
  • District 18 split, with impeachment investigation committee Democratic member Ryan Cwach and Republican member Mike Stevens voting according to their respective minority/majority report positions. District 19 voters inclined to weigh their Representatives’ wisdom by their impeachment votes may choose two from among incumbents Cwach and Stevens and challengers Jay Williams (Democrat) and Julie Auch (Republican).
  • District 27 also split on party lines: Democrat Peri Pourier voted to impeach, Republican Liz May voted to excuse. Those incumbents also face a four-way general election, with Democrat Norma Rendon and Republican Bud May running.
  • No other district has Representatives who voted opposite each other on impeachment and now face each other in a contested House race.
  • District 25 is unique in having three impeachment Naysayers on its Legislative ballot. Representative Tom Pischke is running for Senate against three challengers, including former District 25 Senator Tim Rave’s wife Lisa and former District 8 Representative Leslie Heinemann. Representatives Jon Hansen and Randy Gross (the latter newly redistricted from District 8) are running for reëlection to the House against Democratic challengers David Kills a Hundred and former District 25 legislator Dan Ahlers.
  • Rep. Greg Jamison may face the hardest election test for any impeachment opponent. Jamison’s District 12 seatmate Arch Beal voted for impeachment and is now running for Senate. Jamison must defend his impeachment nay against four Republican primary challengers. If he manages to beat three of them, Jamison and his ticketmate will face two Democratic opponents in the fall, and District 12 is one of the districts made reasonably competitive for Democrats (Dave’s Redistricting says the new District 12 created on the Sparrow map approved last November broke 54% GOP and 45% Dem in the last two Presidential election years, which in South Dakota counts as Democratically competitive).

9 Comments

  1. larry kurtz 2022-04-13

    Voters should expect anonymous leaks to the press about Mrs. Noem’s interference in the Pandora Papers probe.

  2. Honest Abe 2022-04-13

    Rep. Milstead indicated to Tom Lawrence that she was strongly pro-impeachment the day before the vote. What was said in that closed caucus that changed her mind?

  3. sdslim 2022-04-13

    The sad part is, the people most affected by this sad event have no say. The family, friends, Joe himself and concerned citizens —- take a back seat to the process. Because, It is all about Republican politics and what the majority party can get away with. As with most things in SD, the will of the people means nothing, as proven by the legislature’s quick action to cancel, challenge, or pass negating laws about what the people want — time and time again. I get it that elections have consequences, but there was a time when our legislators and people would put the state and country above party. No longer. The AG has an “R” behind his name, had no court experience before he was elected over a far more qualified opponent, with the wrong letter behind his name, has a horrendous driving record, even after getting elected and using his position to not be penalized. Apparently the top cop in SD is not subject to the rules the rest of us are —– and it culminated in the death of an innocent pedestrian. The whole thing makes me angry and sick to my stomach.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-13

    Hang in there, SDSlim. We got just enough Republicans to impeach Ravnsborg. That action itself has consequences: in the immediate term, he’s out of the office, unable to exercise any official duties. (Hey, Larry, if Ravnsborg is out of the office, can he still get those documents to leak on Noem’s nefariousness?) Longer-term, he carries the impeachment footnote next to his name forever. He has no reputable route to power.

    But the SDGOP will forever bear the stain of having nominated this incompetent and irresponsible menace over two qualified prosecutors for Attorney General in 2018.

  5. Honest Abe 2022-04-13

    People have a right to change their mind, of course. I was just curious what Rep. Milstead’s reasoning was for switching to the anti-impeachment side of the aisle. That’s why I hate the closed caucus. It’s not transparent and can prevent citizens from knowing what really motivates a legislator’s voting decisions. Or did Rep. Milstead just accidentally push the wrong button? I imagine that happens from time to time.

  6. grudznick 2022-04-13

    Mr. H, does Lar have some deep state operatives who can get documents for you?

  7. leslie 2022-04-13

    In a similar impeachment of an incompetent right wing figure, Mitch McConnell, and likely protege John Thune knew, while voting to acquit Trump the second time in the Senate:

    “Trump called McConnell in Dec 2020 and outlined scheme to overturn election in 3 states — GA, PA and MI

    But McConnell did not go public with his alarm”

  8. roger hofer 2022-04-14

    My name is Roger Hofer. I am one of 5 running for 2 house seats in district 19. please correct your story about who is running in this district. 605 360 3397

  9. jerry 2022-04-14

    OT, or is it? Nursing homes, why does NOem and the legislature get a pass on this? Truly a disgusting reminder of the lack of government we have in this state. Try to imagine your penis “eroding away” from a catheter problem.

    “The 2021 inspection report gave examples of serious deficiencies in resident care at Avantara Ipswich. Some residents lost large amounts of weight; others were found by family members to be frequently soaked in urine; some had injuries or ulcers that were not documented or treated; and one elderly man had catheter problems that caused his penis to begin “eroding away.” https://www.sdnewswatch.org/stories/pending-closure-and-poor-care-at-ipswich-nursing-home-latest-outcomes-of-staffing-shortage/

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